#5 - We all have our differences.
Hold your arm out in front of you. Take a good look at it from where the hair line begins down to the edge of your knuckles.
Finished? Did you get a good look?
Would you describe that arm as being particularly hairy? Because when I do this, alone in my apartment, I don’t really see the big deal. It’s not like “Man! if Robin Williams had a brother…” No, they are just some pretty standard arms of European decent. Slightly hairy I suppose, maybe it gets a little thick down by the wrists and on the top sides of the hands, but that is IT. Nothing out of control, I promise.
When I first arrived in Korea, one of the first things I noticed about my students was how fascinated they all were with my arms. I always walk around the room when they are writing and help them with any mistakes, as a teacher should do. And to this day, without fail, every single time I take their pencil to correct a little mistake, their eyes wander from the page, they lose all concentration on the English, and they immediately become fixated on the freaky apendage that has just entered their perifial vision. It’s as if King King, the eighth wonder of the world, has just shocked them into a comatose state of being. Eyes start to enlarge, mouths start to take shape as if they are silently saying to themselves “Oooooooooooo”, and hands reach out to grab a stroke of my freakish ape-like exterior. At which point, I slap their hands away, give a light embarrassing chuckle, and tell them to “stopppppppp!” and “pay attention!” Little weirdos.
I used to not really know how to react but now, when my arms get stroked, I simply look back and say “hairy, right?” and then I ask them “Where is your hair?! Why are your arms so bald?!” And then they look at me in confusion, we laugh at our little differences, and I continue explaining that it’s not “I to school go” but “I go to school.” And that is usually how my classes go.
I have noticed that each student gets surprised only once and then it’s over. It’s not like one kid who just can’t get enough. Actually, there is one student, Chang Ho, he just can’t get over it and as a result, does not receive much of my attention. But 18 separate classes with 26 students per class means that I’m destined to have my arms admired and felt up by 468 students, 468 separate times. This is assuming that each one takes one shot. Hopefully my assumptions are wrong. It seems to be that the 3rd and 4th graders are the most amazed. The 5th and 6th graders are too cool at this point in their lives and could care less about the temporary English teacher, let alone his weird arm hair. Maybe I’ll be able to get through this year with only 200 swipes of the arm. Maybe.